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G.R. No. 154322. August 22, 2006.

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EMILIA FIGURACION-GERILLA, petitioner, vs. CAROLINA VDA. DE
FIGURACION,** ELENA FIGURACION-ANCHETA,** HILARIA A.
FIGURACION, FELIPA FIGURACION-MANUEL, QUINTIN
FIGURACION and MARY FIGURACION-GINEZ, respondents.

Actions; Succession; Co-Ownership; Partition; Partition is


premature when ownership of the lot is still in dispute.
In any event, there appears to be a complication with respect to
the partition of Lot 705. The records refer to a case entitled Figuracion,
et al. v. Alejo currently pending in the CA. The records, however, give no
clue or information regarding what exactly this case is all about.
Whatever the issues may be, suffice it to say that partition is premature
when ownership of the lot is still in dispute.

Same; Same; Same; Same; In a situation where there remains an


issue as to the expenses chargeable to the estate, partition is
inappropriate.
The right to an inheritance is transmitted immediately to the heirs
by operation of law, at the moment of death of the decedent. There is no
doubt that, as one of the heirs of Leandro Figuracion, petitioner has a
legal interest in Lot 2299. But can she compel partition at this stage?
There are two ways by which partition can take place under Rule 69: by
agreement under Section 2 and through commissioners when such
agreement cannot be reached, under Sections 3 to 6. Neither method
specifies a procedure for determining expenses chargeable to the
decedents estate. While Section 8 of Rule 69 provides that there shall
be an accounting of the real propertys income (rentals and profits) in the
course of an action for partition, there is no provision for the accounting
of expenses for which property belonging to the decedents estate may
be answerable, such as funeral expenses, inheritance taxes and similar
expenses enumerated under Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court. In
a situation where there remains an issue as to the expenses chargeable
to the estate, partition is inappropriate. While petitioner points out that
the estate is allegedly without any debt and she and respondents are
Leandro Figuracions only legal heirs, she does not dispute the finding of
the CA that certain expenses including those related to her fathers
final illness and burial have not been properly settled. Thus, the heirs
(petitioner and respondents) have to submit their fathers estate to
settlement because the determination of these expenses cannot be
done in an action for partition.

Same; Same; Same; Accounting; In estate settlement proceedings,


there is a proper procedure for the accounting of all expenses for
which the estate must answer.
In estate settlement proceedings, there is a proper procedure for
the accounting of all expenses for which the estate must answer. If it is
any consolation at all to petitioner, the heirs or distributees of the
properties may take possession thereof even before the settlement of
accounts, as long as they first file a bond conditioned on the payment of
the estates obligations.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and resolution of the


Court of Appeals.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Simplicio M. Sevilleja for petitioner.

Pedro R. De Guzman for respondent.

CORONA, J.:

In this petition for review on certiorari,1 petitioner Emilia Figuracion-


Gerilla challenges the decision2 and resolution3 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Urdaneta
City, Pangasinan, Branch 49, which dismissed her complaint for
partition. The properties involved are two parcels of land which belonged
to her late father, Leandro Figuracion.

The facts of the case follow.4 Spouses Leandro and respondent Carolina
Figuracion (now both deceased) had six children: petitioner and
respondents Elena Figuracion-Ancheta (now deceased), Hilaria
Figuracion, Felipa FiguracionManuel, Quintin Figuracion and Mary
Figuracion-Ginez.

On August 23, 1955, Leandro executed a deed of quitclaim over his real
properties in favor of his six children. When he died in 1958, he left
behind two parcels of land: (1) Lot 2299 of the Cadastral Survey of
Urdaneta consisting of 7,547 square meters with Transfer Certificate of
Title (TCT) No. 4221-P in the name of Leandro Figuracion, married to
Carolina Adviento and (2) Lot 705 of the Cadastral Survey of Urdaneta
with an area of 2,900 sq. m. with TCT No. 4220-P also in the name of
Leandro Figuracion, married to Carolina Adviento. Leandro had
inherited both lots from his deceased parents,5 as evidenced by Original
Certificate of Title (OCT) Nos. 16731 and 16610, respectively, issued by
the Register of Deeds of the Province of Pangasinan.

Leandro sold a portion of Lot 2299 to Lazaro Adviento, as a result of


which TCT No. 4221-P was cancelled and TCT No. 101331 was issued
to Lazaro Adviento, married to Rosenda Sagueped as owner of the 162
sq. m. and Leandro Figuracion, married to Carolina Adviento as owner
of 7,385 sq. m. This lot continued to be in the name of Leandro in Tax
Declaration No. 616 for the year 1985.

What gave rise to the complaint for partition, however, was a dispute
between petitioner and her sister, respondent Mary, over the eastern half
of Lot 707 of the Cadastral Survey of Urdaneta with an area of 3,164 sq.
m.

Lot 707 belonged to Eulalio Adviento, as evidenced by OCT No. 15867


issued on February 9, 1916. When Adviento died, his two daughters,
Agripina Adviento (his daughter by his first wife) and respondent
Carolina (his daughter by his second wife), succeeded him to it. On
November 28, 1961, Agripina executed a quitclaim in favor of petitioner
over the one-half eastern portion of Lot 707. Agripina died on July 28,
1963, single and without any issue. Before her halfsisters death,
however, respondent Carolina adjudicated unto herself, via affidavit
under Rule 74 of the Rules of Court, the entire Lot 707 which she later
sold to respondents Felipa and Hilaria. The latter two immediately had
OCT No. 15867 cancelled, on December 11, 1962. A new title, TCT No.
42244, was then issued in the names of Felipa and Hilaria for Lot 707.

In February 1971, petitioner and her family went to the United States
where they stayed for ten years. Returning in 1981,6 she built a house
made of strong materials on the eastern half-portion of Lot 707. She
continued paying her share of the realty taxes thereon.

It was sometime later that this dispute erupted. Petitioner sought the
extrajudicial partition of all properties held in common by her and
respondents. On May 23, 1994, petitioner filed a complaint in the RTC of
Urdaneta City, Branch 49, for partition, annulment of documents,
reconveyance, quieting of title and damages against respondents,
praying, among others, for: (1) the partition of Lots 2299 and 705; (2) the
nullification of the affidavit of self-adjudication executed by respondent
Carolina over Lot 707, the deed of absolute sale in favor of respondents
Felipa and Hilaria, and TCT No. 42244; (3) a declaration that petitioner
was the owner of one-half of Lot 707 and (4) damages. The case was
docketed as Civil Case No. U-5826.

On the other hand, respondents took the position that Leandros estate
should first undergo settlement proceedings before partition among the
heirs could take place. And they claimed that an accounting of expenses
chargeable to the estate was necessary for such settlement.

On June 26, 1997,7 the RTC8 rendered judgment nullifying Carolinas


affidavit of self-adjudication and deed of absolute sale of Lot 707. It also
declared Lots 2299 and 705 as exclusive properties of Leandro
Figuracion and therefore part of his estate. The RTC, however,
dismissed the complaint for partition, reconveyance and damages on the
ground that it could not grant the reliefs prayed for by petitioner without
any (prior) settlement proceedings wherein the transfer of title of the
properties should first be effected.

On appeal, the CA upheld the dismissal of petitioners action for partition


for being premature. The CA reversed the decision, however, with
respect to the nullification of the self-adjudication and the deed of sale.
Upholding the validity of the affidavit of selfadjudication and deed of sale
as to Carolinas one-half pro-indiviso share, it instead partitioned Lot
707. Dissatisfied, respondents elevated the CA decision to this Court in
G.R. No. 151334, entitled Carolina vda. de Figuracion, et al. v. Emilia
Figuracion-Gerilla.

The issue for our consideration is whether or not there needs to be a


prior settlement of Leandros intestate estate (that is, an accounting of
the income of Lots 2299 and 705, the payment of expenses, liabilities
and taxes, plus compliance with other legal requirements, etc.) before
the properties can be partitioned or distributed.
Respondents claim that: (1) the properties constituting Leandros estate
cannot be partitioned before his estate is settled and (2) there should be
an accounting before anything else, considering that they (respondents)
had to spend for the maintenance of the deceased Leandro Figuracion
and his wife in their final years, which support was supposed to come
from the income of the properties. Among other things, respondents
apparently wanted petitioner to share in the expenses incurred for the
care of their parents during the ten years she stayed in the United
States, before she could get her part of the estate while petitioner
apparently wanted her gross share, without first contributing to the
expenses.

In any event, there appears to be a complication with respect to the


partition of Lot 705. The records refer to a case entitled Figuracion, et al.
v. Alejo currently pending in the CA. The records, however, give no clue
or information regarding what exactly this case is all about. Whatever the
issues may be, suffice it to say that partition is premature when
ownership of the lot is still in dispute.10

Petitioner faces a different problem with respect to Lot 2299. Section 1,


Rule 69 of the Rules of Court provides:

SECTION 1. Complaint in action for partition of real estate.A person


having the right to compel the partition of real estate may do so as
provided in this Rule, setting forth in his complaint the nature and extent
of his title and an adequate description of the real estate of which
partition is demanded and joining as defendants all other persons
interested in the property.

The right to an inheritance is transmitted immediately to the heirs by


operation of law, at the moment of death of the decedent. There is no
doubt that, as one of the heirs of Leandro Figuracion, petitioner has a
legal interest in Lot 2299. But can she compel partition at this stage?

There are two ways by which partition can take place under Rule 69: by
agreement under Section 211 and through commissioners when such
agreement cannot be reached, under Sections 3 to 6.12

Neither method specifies a procedure for determining expenses


chargeable to the decedents estate. While Section 8 of Rule 69 provides
that there shall be an accounting of the real propertys income (rentals
and profits) in the course of an action for partition,13 there is no
provision for the accounting of expenses for which property belonging to
the decedents estate may be answerable, such as funeral expenses,
inheritance taxes and similar expenses enumerated under Section 1,
Rule 90 of the Rules of Court.

In a situation where there remains an issue as to the expenses


chargeable to the estate, partition is inappropriate. While petitioner
points out that the estate is allegedly without any debt and she and
respondents are Leandro Figuracions only legal heirs, she does not
dispute the finding of the CA that certain expenses including those
related to her fathers final illness and burial have not been properly
settled.14 Thus, the heirs (petitioner and respondents) have to submit
their fathers estate to settlement because the determination of these
expenses cannot be done in an action for partition.

In estate settlement proceedings, there is a proper procedure for the


accounting of all expenses for which the estate must answer. If it is any
consolation at all to petitioner, the heirs or distributees of the properties
may take possession thereof even before the settlement of accounts, as
long as they first file a bond conditioned on the payment of the estates
obligations.15

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Court of Appeals


decision and resolution in CA-G.R. CV No. 58290 are AFFIRMED in so
far as the issue of the partition of Lots 2299 and 705 is concerned.

But with respect to Lot 707, we make no ruling on the validity of Carolina
vda. de Figuracions affidavit of self-adjudication and deed of sale in
favor of Felipa and Hilaria Figuracion in view of the fact that Carolina
vda. de Figuracion, et al. v. Emilia Figuracion-Gerilla (G.R. No. 151334)
is still pending in this Division.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Puno (Chairperson), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Azcuna and Garcia, JJ.,


concur.
Petition denied, judgment and resolution affirmed.

Notes.While an heir to the intestate estate of his deceased parent is a


co-owner of all of the latters properties, such co-ownership rights are
effectively dissolved by any partition agreed upon by the heirs. (Heirs of
Quirico Seraspi and Purificacion R. Seraspi vs. Court of Appeals, 331
SCRA 293 [2000])

A compulsory heir of the decedent can not be deprived of his or her


share in the estate save by disinheritance as prescribed by law.
(Francisco vs. Francisco-Alfonso, 354 SCRA 112 [2001]) [] G.R. No.
154322